Erdoğan says deployment near Afrin is for defense purposes
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the Turkish army’s deployment near Afrin province in northern Syria, controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), is part of defense measures against threats to Turkey.
“If we are being harassed from across our borders, if we are attacked from within those boundaries; we cannot allow them to go ahead with it. We have to do whatever is necessary. This is what we did in the Euphrates Shield [operation]. This is what we did in Idlib. I am declaring: This is what is done in Afrin,” Erdoğan said on Nov. 10.
Turkey has long been reinforcing its military deployment on its border with Syria in a bid to act in the event of a threat against its borders.
Months after completing the Euphrates Shield operation across its border late March, during which it cleared Jarablus of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) elements and moved south of al-Bab town, the Turkish army crossed into Syria once again for Idlib, in October, this time as part of a trilateral agreement with Russia and Iran to cement truce between forces loyal to the Syrian regime and armed rebel groups.
Turkish troops in north of Idlib, which neighbors Afrin, have established two checkpoints so far as part of efforts to set up a de-escalation zone in the jihadist-controlled province.
Turkey says its military buildup near Afrin aims to take action against threats from the YPG, which Ankara sees as an affiliate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“Our operation in Idlib is nearly complete. Ahead of us is Afrin. These are threats to us and we will never make concessions to such threats,” Erdoğan had told the parliamentary group of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Oct. 24.